Stargazing Log 2023-11-21 (publ. 2023-11-22)

The skies cleared up unexpectedly last Monday (November 20th) but I wasn't able to make it out due to tiredness and some other circumstances. I was very disappointed at this, since we have had very poor stargazing weather this last month. But fortunately God gave me another opportunity last evening (November 11th). I was able to make it out to the boat launch at about 9:30pm AKST. That was later in the evening than I would have liked, but we had a "Pie and Praise" service at our church just before that. It was a wonderful Thanksgiving service where we praised God for things he had done for us this year, and then afterwards ate lots of dessert.

The sky was very bright, due to the bright, high quarter-moon to toward the south, and the city lights to the east. But in between the two areas of sky, there was a slighty darker patch, with Taurus nicely positioned for binocular viewing, so I decided to focus on that:

Stellarium Sky - Taurus

Stellarium Sky - Taurus (with constellation lines)

Stellarium Sky - Taurus close-up

There are a number of memorable patterns around the head of Taurus. To the right of bright red Albebaran, are those six stars that look kind of like a hexagon but with pairs of vertices squeezed together. It makes me think of the flux capacitor from Back To The Future. 80 Tau and 81 Tau are at the bottom of the pattern:

Stellarium Binocular View - Taurus

Stellarium Binocular View - Taurus (with labels)

North of that pattern is a bunch of stars that look to me like a mushroom that has been tilted over to the left. I.e., 63 Tau and δ2 Tau are at the base of the mushrom and δ3 is in the head of it. But if you don't see anything resembling a mushroom I won't be offended.

Stellarium Binocular View - Taurus

Stellarium Binocular View - Taurus (with labels)

And then toward the southwest of the flux capacitor is a pattern that looks to me like a ladel, with 60 Tau and h Tau being part of the spoon, and 58 Tau and Prima Hyadum being part of the handle. It is a bit more obvious looking at it in person, where the brightness of those stars is more pronounced than in Stellarium.

Stellarium Binocular View - Taurus

Stellarium Binocular View - Taurus(with labels)

Comparing what I remember with the view in Stellarium, I believe I was able to see stars at least down to magnitude 8.5, maybe as low as 9.

Once again, I'm thankful to the Creator for another stargazing opportunity, and also for my Skymaster 12x60 binoculars. They are proving to be very practical tool. I had some difficulties with convergence when I tried using them to look at the moon, but it doesn't seem to be a problem when I am looking at stars. Before heading out, I played around with the knobs on my tripod and was able to figure out better how those work, which translated to a better experience out on the field.

The weather is getting nippy now (minus 4 deg F last night) but once the binoculars and tripod are set up, it is easy to jump in and out of the SUV when I need to warm up. I don't know if I'll be able to do any more sketches, though.

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